Undefeated Page06 Final
MBQ by Felipe Smith has been one of the most critically acclaimed of Tokyopop’s OGM, or OEL or whatever they are calling them. A multi-culti look at life in Los Angeles, it’s sharply observed, funny, humane and deserves a much bigger audience that it has received.

Over on MySpace, Smith has posted a free 14-page comic detailing an overnight wait to buy some Nike Shoes. Now, camping out overnight for tennies is far beyond The Beat‘s ability to comprehend, but if we had been there, we imagine it would have looked a lot like


  1. Do you know whether Nike paid for the ad?
    I can’t imagine otherwise, what with the comic featuring the product and company prominently and basically being about validating the sad idiots that camp overnight for a shoe.

  2. _I_ would agree with you on that one.
    However, in their defense the Star Wars people can at least claim that they are anticipating a work of (minimal) artistic merit engaging with which might lead to personal growth or somesuch. In the case of shoes that argument is much harder to make and at any rate requires fetishising shoes in the first place.

  3. Haha!
    You guys are funny :D
    People get excited about different things in this short life.
    Some people like fictitious quests out in galaxies far, far away; others like shoes that match their shirts.

    Nike didn’t pay me a cent, and I didn’t buy the shoes either.

    I draw comics NOBODY else can draw, and part of achieving that is paying attention to what’s going on around me and sharing my experiences.
    Noticing things that others don’t and sharing those finds with a readership.

    Most people who read this are amazed at what some people will do to get a pair of shoes. If I hadn’t drawn this, most of you would have never even found out about it.
    This happens at least twice a month in most major U.S. cities.

    That’s why, even though you’ve never heard of me, or my book, I can state with confidence that what I do is unique ;)
    Keep complaining if you must (people love to do that) but also keep reading.
    I don’t dissapoint.
    Have a good one!

    Help me REVOLT!


  4. “If I hadn’t drawn this, most of you would have never even found out about it.”
    Except of course by watching any random docu-tainment show of which there are plenty and they’re full of this kind of stuff. Granted, it probably isn’t common knowledge, so there will be readers unfamiliar with the phenomenon, but if it
    “happens at least twice a month in most major U.S. cities.” it so frequent that anyone astonished by the discovery that this happens needs to consider getting out more.
    On that note, allow me to suggest you re-work your pitch on this. Either you’re bringing cutting-edge stuff to the masses *,** OR this stuff happens regularly in major cities.

    * _I_ would suggest a different subject matter to achieve that aim. Your mileage obviously does vary.
    ** I would also suggest a different mode of presentation, but that’s obviously partly a matter of style and personal preference.

  5. I draw comics NOBODY else can draw

    But that’s true with every artist. I think what you mean is “I choose to create stories about a subject that few cartoonists do.” Which is not a remarkable thing in itself. What is remarkable is your take on the subject: urban life in LA.

    Felipe, I love your work, you know I do — but I don’t understand this whole “revolt” thing. What exactly are you revolting against? If it’s a revolt against a dearth of PERSONALITY in comics, well sounds good to me — but I think you should know there’s a good number of people already doing this. You can check out most of what’s on the shelves from Fantagraphics and the like. Hell, if it’s comics journalism you’re talking about then you’ve already been beaten by people like Joe Sacco by a few years, and his stories on Palestine are a little more harrowing than standing in line for shoes. If it’s a revolt against fantasy and science fiction, then the revolt can go on without me. I’ll gladly line up to be guillotined with the rest of the aristocracy and I’ll be sure to have my severed head blink three times as a post-mortem measure of defiance on the subject. I hate most stories set in urban modern life, suburban modern life, rural modern anything. I absolutely despise them for their lack of imagination and crushing spirit. I’ve been crushed by reality my entire life and when I finally have time to contribute to a medium where I can TRULY create whatever I want, WHY would I want to write about my awful neighbourhood when I could be writing about it’s better possibilities. Down with reality! Death to reality! But I like your work. Why? Because you have a very rich personality and it comes blazing through even the most mundane of street scenes.

    You’re a huge talent and I think you should be handed a million sales for what you create but you do your talent an enormous disservice with your bluster about being the most unique thing on the shelves — because when you’re lined up against all of the other very unique things on the shelves, a smile and a wink of recognition from a Hitchhiker’s Guide fan reading a work of science fiction is the same smile and wink of recognition from an MBQ fan reading a work of modern urban life. Being unique is not so unique.


  6. Waddup Rikki, good to hear from you!
    I know we’re good; you were one of the first colleagues to ever show me support and encouragement. Let me attempt to clarify the direction of my REVOLT.

    I draw comics NOBODY else can draw

    My statement is true for all artists; that’s why I stand firmly by it.
    Some would chose to see that as a “pompousâ€? remark, which could drive them to look for my work in an attempt to prove me wrong or just figure out what the hell I’m talking about. That would expose my work to one more pair of eyeballs!
    One at a time, little by little ;)

    I’m revolting against comics being read ONLY by a SELECT few.
    I want comics to grow to be a popular form of entertainment. That’s what I chose as a career, and I don’t want to continue to be BROKE ‘til the end of my existence, haha.
    The only way to avoid that is to expand the readership so that it’s vast enough to support the industry and us artists.
    (Making do with the meager readership available and working within the narrow margin of popularly accepted genres is not the way, in my opinion.)
    Unfortunately, I haven’t found comics to be at an all time high in the “popular pastimesâ€? department.

    Most people who have met me will probably agree that I talk a lot, which is true, (I would never try to argue against that, haha), but aside from talking peoples’ ears off, I also do a healthy bit of listening.

    I talk to EVERYBODY: business men, school kids, tourists, store clerks, artists, teachers, anybody who won’t run away from me, pretty much.
    Since I don’t have a car, I ride the bus a lot, and talk to any unlucky people in my proximity. I carry stacks of MBQ flyers in my pockets and pass them out to anybody I talk to. I’ve even managed to sell my books on the bus to complete strangers who don’t even READ comics.

    I’d have to say it’s a tough sell. Most of the people I address on the street, a bar or a club, don’t read comics. That’s sad, (:S) and that’s what I’m REVOLTING against. I want EVERYBODY to be open to the idea of reading books with pictures and text, regardless of their age, sex, etc.

    I find that the easiest way to get non-comic book readers to read comics is writing about themes they can readily identify with. Reality tends to work pretty well.
    You gotta ease these readers into looking inside a picture book first without feeling like a total NERD (because, believe it or not, most people believe that’s who these things are meant for besides kids), before you can get them to read other more “imaginativeâ€? things.

    I DON’T revolt against fantasy, make believe, or any genre or style. I don’t revolt against freedom of expression or the pursuit and enjoyment of one’s own art.
    I’m hoping not to hear too many like accusations (though I probably will); it makes little sense if you look at my work.
    Remember, my work is still a work of fiction, and to some degree still fantasy, regardless of whether or not it’s grounded in present day LA. It has been fabricated somewhere in my thick, stubborn, unrelenting skull.

    Lack of personality in comics is saddening, but I know I’m not the only one out there with something to say. I’ll wait for others to start popping up and hope they make as much noise as I’m trying to make; then this industry might have a shot at growing, bettering itself (becoming main stream) and allowing us to make a REAL living, haha.

    For now, I’ll take every swing anyone might take at me with the stiffest of chins, and when they’re tired of trying to knock me down, and fall on their own rear ends; their fall will be padded by the stacks of MBQ flyers I shoved in their back pockets during the struggle.
    I will NOT be denied, I WILL revolt, and more people WILL read comics!
    It’s MBQ TIME!! :D
    Much love to everybody, alliances appreciated!


  7. First of all, if you pay attention, it’s pretty obvious that Mr. Smith is revolting against stereotypes; one in particular, would be those placed on comics and comic readers. This has been a common theme expressed in both volumes of MBQ, which are now available in stores and online.

    Second, every artist, no matter what the subject matter, will present their work in a fashion that will be unique to everyone else. The statement he draws comics NOBODY else can draw is fact. So, I am not sure why this statement bothers people. If he told stories like another artist, why would you buy anything by Felipe; you’d by the work from the originator. And all stories, from fiction to non-fiction, reality to fantasy, are all told from unique points of view. Felipe’s stories provide us a distinctive look into his mindset and interpretation of events others might never have the opportunity to experience for themselves.

    It is these concepts, these experiences that Mr. Smith is trying to present to a larger audience; not just “kids and dorksâ€?. These stories are meant for people of all walks of life. But, they will never know that, unless he/we make/s a ruckus and breaks through typical conceptions of the medium.

    Markus – you disappoint me. To think the only reason to tell that story is if he had gotten paid by Nike? It is his career, but Mr. Smith is first and foremost a storyteller. Using that actual brand name, for me, grounds it more in reality than if he called it “ShNikeâ€?. I found that the story wasn’t about the shoes; it was about the people. I find it very ignorant of you to say that the people that created and designed those shoes, the thousands of artists that worked on the Star Wars films, did only minimal work, at best? You mock those who have passions that differ from your own– c’mon, you’re on a pop culture blog (you have to have some kind “dorkyâ€? of fetish?). I ask you, now – what do you collect? Haven’t you ever waited for something with anticipation?

    Rikki – to tell Felipe that he is a disservice to himself by blustering about being the most unique thing on the shelves, means you have no idea the power and charisma the man truly possesses; both in person and through his work. His intentions were never to down play other artists; it was to wake up potential readers and let them know of his presence. And it seems to be working, because here we are, commenting on him, right now. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s still publicity – and that’s what the medium needs to reach a broader audience. Mr. Smith understands that. It needs people to realize all the voices and personalities that exist in this format and decide it is meant for all of society to enjoy.

    Felipe Smith is trying to revolutionize the social status of the comic industry. Now, isn’t something worth fighting for?

  8. Chomahawk: people working in the comic industry have been trying to raise the social status of comics for forty years and more, much more. Felipe, though greatly passionate in what he believes and extremely talented, is no more unique when he rides the bus and solicits his work to strangers than Will Eisner was when he changed the name of what his book was from a comic to a graphic novel just to get a doubting publisher to look at it. We all have ways in which we try to get non comics readers to read our comics, and that’s why being unique is not a thing one can stand alone on. The only uniqueness is in one’s personality and in that Felipe is special and good.

    For myself, I’ve tried for years to introduce healthy comic reading to non readers and what I’ve found is that there are people who just can’t do it. They are physically incapable. They look at the images and words and literally cannot tell the difference between the story and the advertisements. There is just something missing in their brain that doesn’t allow them to understand pictures and words together. I believe the reason for this is that we are a species that has evolved to comprehend our environment through action and experience. People who can move beyond this basic way of processing information are not alone but the greater portion of the population who can’t process the comics kind of information I would guess are at least 60% of the population. Even in Japan, where comics are so popular they can been seen as epidemic, television and movies and video games still hold the higher social ring.

    What I needed to be clear on was just what his “revolt” was supposed to be about, because in the muddle of his passions, it has not been very clear at all, and I have read Felipe’s books now even more than i have read my own. This industry’s number one product is not comics: it’s jadedness. Work just five years in it and you will have heard every scrap of paper with a blotch of ink on it described in advertisements as ground breaking, as the greatest thing ever, as life-changing, and they never are — no matter how good. If you think the non-comics reading public outside of comics is hard to convince the messiah has come, try convincing the active readers.

    But I wish Felipe success and do promote his book whenever possible.


  9. “For myself, I’ve tried for years to introduce healthy comic reading to non readers and what I’ve found is that there are people who just can’t do it. They are physically incapable. They look at the images and words and literally cannot tell the difference between the story and the advertisements. There is just something missing in their brain that doesn’t allow them to understand pictures and words together.”

    Rikki: Next time you try, make sure the comics you have selected have been properly and skillfully laid out so anybody can read them. Both written and visual communication have a way of coding information so that the reader/viewer/receptor will be able to decode the message and receive that which is relevant to its author.

    FireRogue .^__^. [ ! ]